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Pending $100 Million Structural Adjustment Loan Payment to the Russian Federation

Dear Mr. Wolfensohn:
We are writing to update you on our recent findings regarding the
conduct of the conflict in Chechnya and, in light of these findings,
to urge you once again to postpone payment of the pending $100
million installment under the coal sector structural adjustment loan to Russia.

Federation. In light of compelling evidence of serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Russian armed forces in Chechnya, we believe that the Bank should delay any such payments for general budgetary spending until such time that the Russian government evidences a clear commitment to abide by international law in Chechnya, including by the acceptance of an international monitoring presence in the region and the initiation of a serious, transparent investigation of alleged abuses.
We recognize that the decision to disburse the funds rests with the Bank's management and have today written the attached letter to Mr. Wolfensohn, outlining our view that the pending payment to the Russian Federation would be contrary to the Bank's policy and mandate. At the same time, we are also looking to the Bank's shareholders to express their serious reservations about this payment.

Through more than five hundred exhaustive interviews with victims, witnesses, and family-members, we have documented serious violations of international humanitarian law in Chechnya, including indiscriminate and disproportionate bombing, widespread looting, arbitrary detention, torture, and the summary executions of more than120 civilians by Russian troops. After recent meetings in Moscow with Russian military officials, the military procurator, and the Presidential Representative for Human Rights in Chechnya, moreover, we are forced to conclude that the Russian government has not undertaken a serious process of accountability for these abuses.

As is elaborated in the attached letter to Mr. Wolfensohn, we strongly believe that any payment to the Russian government for unfettered general budgetary spending at a time when its military is so flagrantly violating international law would be contrary to Bank policy. Moreover, it would send the wrong signal to both the Russian government and the residents of Chechnya. At a time when the international community is seeking to influence the agenda of a new Russian government, it would indicate a subordination of good governance, rule of law, and human rights to other items on the agenda. In addition, it would exacerbate the feeling of abandonment that we have seen growing among the people of Chechnya. Throughout the past five months, our staff based in Ingushetia have witnessed a radicalization of the civilian population that is tinged with animosity toward not only the Russian Federation, but also the "West," which many see as ignoring their plight and even financing Russia's military operation. These are worrisome factors that should reinforce your opposition to the Bank's pending payment.

We hope that you will voice strong reservations about the Bank's payment. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to discuss this matter further.


Kenneth Roth
Executive Director
Human Rights Watch Holly Cartner
Executive Director
Europe & Central Asia Division

cc: World Bank executive directors

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